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Region 3 News Release
News Release
  • For Immediate Release: August 20, 1999
  • Landscaping Tips To Help Beat The Heat
    PHILADELPHIA - With the hot summer well underway, EPA’s Regional Community-Based Environmental Protection Team has compiled tips and information which can help reduce energy consumption through the use of landscaping. While these ideas won't help with this year's heat, now is a good time to think about landscaping ideas that you could start in the fall and spring to make next summer more tolerable.

    Landscaping can change the microclimate around a building by 20 - 25 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the U.S. Dept. of Energy, energy-efficient landscaping can save up to 30% on home heating bills. Savings for cooling can be even more.

    Most people can save at least a few hundred dollars a year by properly reworking their yard. This can also increase the value of your home since buyers will pay more for a house with low utility bills. There are a number of aspects to consider including sunlight, water, soil, and color of your house.

        Plants interact with solar radiation by blocking sunlight (creating shade) and absorbing heat. In temperate climates, such as ours, deciduous plants in full leaf are generally the best interceptors of direct solar radiation. And, in the winter, when their leaves have been shed, they allow in much desired sunshine. Landscaping should block or filter summer sun and permit winter sun to reach most living areas.
        Dense trees can block up to 95% of the sun’s light and 75% of its heat.
        Consider the size and shape of the shadow a plant will cast.

        At midday a vine-covered wall is cooler than a bare wall. If you don’t have mature trees, consider planting vines on a trellis.

        Water also tempers heat. Even a small pond can help.
        Plants can alter microclimates by intercepting precipitation. Only 60% of rain falling on a pine forest reaches the ground. Because trees intercept and slow down water movement they also help to control runoff and erosion.
        Plant water-thrifty plants, often natives that are suited to the climate. Group together plants with similar water needs.

        Berms, small manmade mounds of earth, can block sun, obstruct winds, insulate, and control noise.
        Mounding soil against a wall can provide insulation, however, the soil must be well-drained. Mounding must be avoided if it will allow termites or carpenter ants to enter the building.
        Sandy soil drains too quickly and doesn’t provide much in the way of nutrients, and water tends to run off of clay soil. The best soil is a mix of clay, sand & silt (loam).

        Paved blacktop can raise temperatures 20 degrees F more than adjacent grassed areas.
        House color also influences temperatures. White roofs keep houses cooler in summer.